Hands off women journalists – NMT

…Presidency regrets incident

By Confidente Reporter

THE Namibia Media Trust (NMT) has called upon State House and government in general to liaise with media for mutually beneficial arrangements that would prevent distasteful occurrences and enable journalists to do their jobs.

This comes after an incident on Wednesday this week when two journalists, Charmaine Ngatjiheue and Jemima Beukes from The Namibian and Namibian Sun respectively were allegedly manhandled by State House security personnel when they attempted to access a facility that was being inaugurated by President Hage Geingob today.

“After a confrontation, and as they were leaving, a police officer reportedly shouted at them, ‘what if you got shot’, giving insight into the mindsets of our public safety professionals and the ease with which they would resort to opening fire on civilians. This is unacceptable, more especially since these were women journalists who posed no threat to these officials,” NMT’s director Zoe Titus said in a statement.

Media houses received communication from State House just before the scheduled event but were informed that only the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) would be allowed inside the facility.

“It should be noted that the right to media freedom as enshrined in the Constitution cannot be suspended or diminished by a State of Emergency.”

The Presidency in a statement acknowledged the incident, saying members of the media were prevented from entering the isolation facility during the inauguration.

“The action taken to restrict the media was to comply with social distancing regulations as a means to combat the spread of COVID-19.  The incident happened as a result of miscommunication between the Presidency Media Team and the Ministry of Health and Social Services and is highly regrettable.

“The RSVP list was precautionary measure in light of the health regulations under the state of emergency subsequent actions of the security officials were not of ill-intent or deliberate but simply enforcing compliance to regulations.  We would like to reassure the media that Presidency values the important role of the media in a healthy democracy and will continue to ensure media freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia.  The Presidency Media Team extends its most sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused by the incident.”

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